2013 — 5 December: Thursday

Since it's already a near-broiling, erm, +2C out on my front porch I'm guessing all that frosty white stuff won't be hanging around too long. And, now that the neighbour's little car has finished spinning its wheels and made its way up the local hill, things are wonderfully quiet around here. Of course, the fact that I've now switched off the second of my two kitchen freezers — having concluded (after Monday's "clearances") that the freezer section of my tall fridge-freezer may well be all I actually need — is making its own contribution to the lovely sense of peace now emanating from my kitchen.1 (And, with any luck, to a lower electricity bill in due course.)

But, hark! Above the sound of the now-audible central heating boiler mounted all the way over on the wall of the dining room I sense the Bird of Breakfast is once again on the wing, and I have the last of my latest batch of plums to stew before they've finished dissolving themselves into a mushy puddle of alcohol.

As usual, by...

... the time I've finished reading this elegantly-written article my sense of the appalling extent of my ignorance is ever-greater. Source and snippet:

In the most infamous species, Schistocerca gregaria, the desert locust of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, these phase changes (as this morphing process is called) occur when crowding spurs a temporary spike in serotonin levels, which causes changes in gene expression so widespread and powerful they alter not just the hopper's behaviour but its appearance and form. Legs and wings shrink. Subtle camo colouring turns conspicuously garish. The brain grows to manage the animal's newly complicated social world, which includes the fact that, if a locust moves too slowly amid its million cousins, the cousins directly behind might eat it.

David Dobbs in Aeon

Better throw out that bottle of SSRIs... or maybe up the dosage! Here, by the way, is a perfect visual accompaniment to that extracted snippet. It helps to relax your eyes and "look through" the seemingly-random image.

I note...

... it's becoming unpleasantly busy out there. Almost as if we're approaching some sort of regular festive spasm that people have to shop for in frenetic preparation. But that doesn't give a little old lady in a ghastly violet "sit up and beg" mini-car carte blanche to take up half my lane while we approach one another on a blind bend, surely? Bad enough that I have to weave between the cars parked as an extra traffic-calming measure on alternating sides of my local leafy lanes.

I was (mildly) amused2 when I got out of my perfectly-aligned car in the Waitrose carpark that an elderly couple tried, and failed, to enter the adjacent space as I was getting my shopping bag out of the boot, then tried, and failed, to enter another space before trying, and failing, to run me over at the pedestrian crossing. Naturally, when I returned to my car, there was an equally perfectly-aligned (but much [much] bigger) vehicle in the adjacent space. But my Yaris has an excellent turning circle so I was able to make my escape unscathed.

I am incurious, cinnamon

Having spat out my first mouthful of what I'd hoped was a viable cinnamon-flavoured bite-size snack


... I shall not be troubling my palate with any more. I should have known better than to trust something called "Curiously Cinnamon". Not that this "nutrition" information appeared anything like as large on the little sachets of the stuff. And from a Swiss multinational, too.

Crikey. I didn't think it was allowed to rain when the barometer's as high as it is.



1  One of the two doors to which is directly behind me as I sit here. Come to think of it, there was a third door, but that evaporated (permanently) in the mid-1980s when we turned what had been a double-length garage into a single-length garage and a dining room. It's a long story that started during one of my skirmishes with what was then still the Abbey National building society, the stance I was taking against their flawed (in their favour) implementation of MIRAS, and the first of our two garden sheds. Let's not get into all that.
2  So I'm easily amused. I admit it. Bite me!